Biosurfactants can be defined as surface-active biomolecules produced by microorganisms with wide-range of applications such as emulsification, detergency, solubilization, lubrication and phase dispersion. In recent years, these biomolecules have attracted wide interest from the scientific community but also from many industrials due to their unique properties like specificity, low toxicity and relative ease of preparation. Also, biosurfactants show several advantages over chemical surfactants, including higher biodegradability and better environmental compatibility.
In light of all of this, the BestBioSurf project aims at producing novel and eco-friendly biosurfactants in a cost-effective manner through initial pilot validation in laboratory settings, to a larger bio-process scale up. In order to do so, the BestBioSurf project will use the Bacillus subtilis bacterial host system as a primary choice for producing these novel biosurfactants. This is mainly due to the
strain’s long history and well-established experimental proof-of concept use in the biotechnological area of lipopeptide bioengineering.
Precisely, we introduce a novel and original strategy based on bioinformatics, synthetic biology and metabolic engineering to perform molecular diversification of well established biosurfactants with high efficacy, low toxicity and high biodegradability, and to produce these at high titers. First, toxicity/efficacy assays with existing lipopeptide and molecular modeling of chemical variants of these compounds with target liquids will be used to define the physicochemical properties of the best biosurfactant to produce. Then, genome mining and synthetic biology will enable the identification and the construction of novel biosynthetic pathway variants towards the target compounds. To reduce their cost price, fatty acid and amino acid metabolism in the producing cells will subsequently be genetically optimized in order to turn very cheap co-substrates provided by a bioethanol industrial producer into high product titers. Finally, the newly produced (novel) surface-active compounds will be checked for their efficacy and ecotoxicity by the end-user study of this project. This end-user is an SME close to the market that could replicate widely the technology through its various activity areas including oil dispersants, innovative chemical cleaning, hygiene, aerospace to rail rolling stock and waterborne pollution. Many other potential applications with high eco-friendly impacts include agriculture (biosurfactants-based biopesticides), medicine (anti-microbial & anti-cancer activity), and cosmetics (emulsification & foaming
properties). This wide range of applications opens up a whole new window of opportunities for partnering in the future with many more end-users that could benefit from the BestBioSurf technologies.
THIS PROJECT IS GRANTED BY AN ERA COBIOTECH FUNDING
– Bio-wanze as substrate supplier for biosurfactant production
– University of Liege (ULG-MiPi and LBMI) and Wageningen University and Research (WUR) as bioinformatics tools developers
– Tuebingen University (EKUT), IBR-CONICET-UNR (IBR) and Lipofabrik Belgium (Lipofabrik) as cell factory developers
– ULG and Lipofabrik as bioprocess developers
– Lipofabrik as biosurfactant producer
– Dasic Intl as biosurfactant end user in the field of transport, food hygiene and oil dispersant. Also, as end-user of this consortium, Dasic we
will be in charge of the exploitation of BestBioSurf results and the market analysis for further commercialization of biosurfactants in close
collaboration with LIPOFABRIK.